Cadent, the UK’s biggest gas distribution network, has published details of the potential economic windfall set for the region through its HyNet project – a hydrogen (H2) energy and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) project.

The projects report explains how the North West will prompt a switch from a dependency on methane-rich natural gas to using more low-carbon H2 .

First stages of a 30-year plan centre on a new H2 production facility planned for Cheshire, making gas for distribution locally and into Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

Central to HyNet is a assurance to reduce carbon emissions by more than one million tonnes every year, or the equivalent of taking 600,000 cars off the road.

An additional bonus of the project is repurposing gas fields in Liverpool Bay and elsewhere off the North West coast, which are due to be decommissioned soon. Cadent proposes using these sites instead to store the carbon captured during the process of extracting H2 from natural gas.

Cadent’s report reveals more than 5,000 jobs would be created between now and 2025, with thousands more to follow as more plants and pipelines come online.

future concept

Up-and-running by the mid-2020s, it would be a UK-first large-scale use of H2 in this way, helping to solve Britain’s concerns of how to decarbonise heat. At the same time, it could open the door for the use of H2 as a clean fuel for buses, lorries and trains.

Led by Cadent, HyNet already has the backing of big players in industry, as well as the region’s two metro mayors, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, who will speak at a launch event to be held in Manchester today (11th May 2018).

Cadent is exploring a range of options to fund HyNet and learning lessons from other large-scale infrastructure projects, such as Thames Tideway in London. Discussions will take place with UK Government, energy regulator Ofgem and potential partners as Cadent seeks the lowest cost pathway to move this first-of-its-kind decarbonisation project from paper to implementation.

Simon Fairman, Director of Safety and Network Strategy at Cadent, said, “This is unquestionably one of the most exciting energy projects for the North West in years. We chose the region because it is already home to 10% of the UK’s biggest industrial users of gas, as well as it is having an ideal site on the doorstep to store the carbon that’s produced in making H2.

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said, “The building blocks are rapidly falling into place to enable the Liverpool City Region and the North West to lead the way in finding cleaner, greener sources of energy. Using H2 to power industry and heat homes in phase one is very exciting, but this HyNet project also sets out a longer-term roadmap towards supplying H2 to fuel our trains and buses. It’s visionary, timely and just what we need.”